Many young people, including students, often don’t realise the importance of getting their voice “heard”. If you have something to say then you should have the freedom to say it in whichever context you find yourself - at home, at work at college or at uni, right? You are not children! You have rights too, and one of them is to be heard.

As students, we do indeed have the right to speak our mind and talk freely about topics that concern us, or which interest us (it doesn't have to be a case of feeling empowered by things that make you angry, it can be to spread a positive message of joy or idea to do something better!).

But, why is it so important, to communicate our thoughts? Why should we make our voices heard? What will we be learning or teaching when doing so?

Not all matters need to end in protest.
There are lots of different ways you can get your opinions across as a student. Photo credit: francisco_osorio on / CC BY

Reasons to Speak Up As a Student

Injustice is rife in our society, the world, even, and despite problems seeming many times bigger than a mere few students can handle, let alone speak out about, the power of our voices, in a society that values freedom of speech, is not only much appreciated, but can help make a difference in issues that are important to you.

If all of us just sit back and think of ourselves as too weak or too little to fight that seemingly huge battle, then absolutely no change would ever be accomplished. We would all just accept that the world we live in is the way it is and that nothing will ever change. So, where does development come from? How do we evolve as human beings if we don't recognise faults in our society and try to fix them? And, it is down to you - this young generation of free-minded and change-welcoming spirits - to pave the way for the generation to come to make sure that you have done all you can to fight battles so that your children or grandchildren don't have to suffer the same injustices.

I have personally never really involved myself actively in politics, and have always taken somewhat of a back seat approach to “getting my voice heard”, not really making an effort to be heard. This wasn’t necessarily due to negligence or ignorance on my part, but before entering university, I preferred to focus on my studies rather than take on too many exterior responsibilities through extracurricular involvement.

However, upon entering university, I found myself getting involved in marches, protests and debates. My university has always been heavily political, and I thought this would give me a brilliant opportunity to involve myself in local politics and speak out about issues that I found interesting.

So come on, if you have strong beliefs, passions and goals too then you can also make yourself heard!

Some Common Reasons for Voicing Concern

Academic concerns

One of the many reasons that spark debates and marches at universities and places of further education is related to the course. For instance, students might feel they have been subject to unfair grades, or they may have been accused of plagiarism when they weren't cheating at all.

When you are paying good money for tuition, it can be very upsetting when you feel shortchanged for your financial outlay. Especially if you have worked tirelessly and for very little reward. This takes us on to our next common reason for students voicing concern.

Financial concerns

It might take students a few months of being at uni to realise or decide that their qualification or course is just not worth the money they have paid. Whether this is due to poor teaching, a poor setting or something else that makes their money feel wasted.

Another hot topic for debates is tuition fees, especially when you take into consideration the higher fees applicable to overseas students.

Community concerns

Last but not least, there are some massive injustices in the whole world right now, which can make their way to the surface in schools and universities and cause outrage. Although some may say we have made great steps in trying to eliminate racism in the UK and give everybody equal rights, those who are subject to such behaviour would beg to differ. Unfortunately, many people's perspective needs to change even further - but the good news is that raising your concerns about this in a school or university setting is bound to be positive because you and your peers are young enough to make these changes and have them ingrained in you for the rest of your lives.

What's more, gender inequality is not just something that is reserved for the professional world, gender inequality is rife anywhere and everywhere.

Ever wondered why boys' and girls' clothes are labelled so when, really, it makes no difference at all if a girl wants to wear a stereotypically male outfit or vice-versa? I certainly don't care what it says on the label when I buy my clothes - if it is comfortable or I like it then it's being worn!

Fighting for men's or women's' rights is a very mature thing to do and to notice. Also, becoming a critical thinker in this way can take you far as it will inspire your choices and your goals and could be one of the things that impress your employer and helps you to reach great success, or it can be something that motivates your own business and allow you to be an innovative, forward-thinking young business.

Who would you vote for as your student body?
Not only are there many ways to speak up, but there are many topics to talk about as a student. Photo credit: Phil Roeder on VisualHunt / CC BY

The Benefits of Voicing Your Opinions to the Student Body

So, what are the benefits of becoming an active voice in your student body at school, college or university?

You can make a change.

It may sound somewhat cheesy, but it is totally true. By telling people how you feel about an important issue or about an idea you have, whether it has something to do with your university, or an issue of your choice, the persuasiveness of a voice can definitely give way to change.

You can meet similarly like-minded people.

Joining together with other students for a cause means that you will more than likely meet people with the same views and beliefs as you! You may even begin to re-evaluate your own set of beliefs, once you hear your opponents’ arguments and make positive change together.

You will improve your own ability to speak in public.

Speaking in public, or even amongst your peers will undoubtedly boost your confidence in your ability to speak in public or uphold your end of a debate argument. It’s always hard to try and stand up in public and convince others of what you believe in, but staying quick on your feet, and practice, will surely allow you a confidence boost as you share your views with others, and possibly even sway them to join your cause!

You can create bonds with your peers.

However, most importantly, I believe that getting your voice heard as a student can create irreplaceable bonds between you, your university and your community.

If you can join in debates and the like at college or uni then you should be a more confident speaker later down the line.
Getting experience speaking can do a lot for your confidence when addressing the public. Photo credit: monkeywing on / CC BY

Ways to Communicate And Represent The Student Body

Of course, the most common ways to speak out are to hold a school debate, arrange a march or protest, speak up on the radio (if your school or college has its own station), write in the academic journal or magazine, have a conversation, create resources for other students and so on...

As you can see, getting your voice heard doesn't necessarily mean becoming a public speaker, although using your personality, passion and persuasiveness can be a very moving factor in winning people over to your way of thinking. However, you can hold polls online or post videos on YouTube of your personal beliefs about people's rights, prompting others to speak out too. Social media can be a very powerful tool in encouraging change, but it must also be used with caution.

Getting involved in community politics, joining a debate society or making public speeches, will without a doubt improve your ability to persuade others and construct a well-informed argument, all of which could come in handy especially when applying for jobs, as these are skills future employers are particularly interested in.

Getting your voice heard can give you so much, especially in the way of meeting others and exposing yourself to a greater audience of people, where you will have the chance to interact with a greater spectrum of culturally diverse people, much like, or different to yourself. Why restrict yourself, even when in a naturally restrictive setting such as school?

It’s time to let yourself be heard. Have your say!

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.